That busy pace has eased the worries of some lobbyists.
“I’ve been feeling a lot better lately, since they started marking up the bills,” said Rich Gold, who heads the lobbying practice at Holland & Knight.
Gold said this year his firm “probably scrubbed projects a little more closely,” turned some clients down and advised others not to pursue certain requests.
And many clients continue to say they’d be lost without such advice from a lobbying firm.
Doug Ulman, chief mission officer for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, said his group has worked with the firm Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal since 2002. For 2005, Sonnenschein reported collecting $280,000 from the foundation.
“While Lance could secure a meeting with President Bush or any Member of Congress, that’s usually not the way [winning funding] happens,” Ulman said. “The process and long-term nature is complicated.”
Ulman said the cancer-focused foundation is getting its money’s worth in building relationships with Congress and officials from agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“For example, Lance asked the president for $1 billion last August,” Ulman said. “But that ask and that visit is not going to result in additional funding. It’s the work we do with Sonnenschein and our other partners ... that helps us get the money for cancer research and programs.”
Even Keith Ashdown of the budget watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense sees no end in sight for appropriations lobbying.
“The good appropriations lobbyists that are crossing their t’s and dotting their i’s aren’t going to be having any problems,” he said. “If they’re transparent, proud of their clients, proud of the money they’re getting their clients, they’re going to have no problems.”
Ashdown added, “There are so many levers they can pull, I would never count these guys out. They can get their earmarks in the Senate, the committees, managers amendments. They have 10 or a dozen bites at the apple.”
Said Holland & Knight’s Gold: “You push the balloon in one side, and it does pop out the other. We’ve been very successful for our clients.”